Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include Walt Whitman (1819), Prince Rainier of Monaco (1923), Prtricia Harris (1924), Don Ameche (1908) and Norman Vincent Peale (1898).   It is also the anniversary of the Johnstown Flood (they have had many, but the one in 1889 was so destructive that it was used as a national term to describe horrible destruction for years.  2,300 people perished, thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed and over 800 unidentified people were buried in a common grave.)

The county has had ten years to prepare a county wide re-assessment.  When the reassessed values for businesses when out in January, initially we the tax payers had two weeks to file an appeal.  The assessment is riddled with errors, some extremely gross and should have been obvious to a casual observer (like a building that had burnt to the ground years previous).  The county is now bogged down with 103,776 formal appeals (including mine).  They wanted to double my property taxes to $30,000-which I consider excessive.

Walldogs is a group of artists trying to revive or at least keep that art of outdoor wall art for advertising alive.  They started in 1993.  They are a group of artists that started meeting yearly in the summer to do multiple projects in a certain town, and kibitz with other artists and learn from each other (somewhat like an Innkeeper’s conference) :).  This year’s project in in Plymouth, Wis.  160 artists will converge and create 21 murals.  The town persons will provide lodging and a brigade of women get up at 6 am to prepare breakfast and then lunch for the artists at St John Lutheran Church.  Some residents research archives to find appropriate images of past wall art.  Pretty cool.  More info at their web site.

Brighton Heights Citizen Federation is having their 8th Annual Walking Chocolate Tour.  Starting at the Kaut House on the corner of Flemming & Termon Avenues on Sunday, June 6.  Tickets are $9 through June 9 and $15 the day of the tour.  You can purchase tickets at the Federation’s web site through PayPal.  More info at their web site or e-mail brightonheights@yahoo.com.

Clique Vodka, headquartered in the Strip since 2007, is having a major expansion.  They have been servicing Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia since 2010.  They are expanding into India this year.  Many vodka producers are introducing new premium and ultra premium brands, where as Clique is targeting a well made, moderate priced vodka targeting the younger 20′s & 30′s age groups.  Clique, Premier Innovations Group, takes a Latvian vodka and packages and markets it.  A lot like what Sidney Frank did with Grey Goose and then sold it to Bacardi for $2BILLION in 2004 after only doing the same thing for eight years.  Wow!  More info at their web site.

Gary Luther of Greensburg has been collecting pedal pushers (those toy cars, not girls shorts), :) kiddie cars, junior autos since 1996.    His collection has gotten so out of hand, he solved the over crowding of his his by buying a small building in his neighborhood that he’s converted into his own “museum” and work shop.  He has over 75 pedal cars, 150 tricycles, 40 wagons and two dozen scooters.  Although his “museum” is not open to the public, he is showing his collections at The Lincoln Highway Experience Museum at 3435 Route 30 East in Unity, Westmoreland County next Sunday at 2 pm.  Admission’s $10 and you need to preregister.  More info at their web site or by calling 724.879.4241.

I am currently reading Quest by Daniel Yergin and I am totally en rapped with it.  Big book (800 total pages), relatively small print, few pictures and I am ravenous with it.  I will finish it by early next week, if not the weekend.   You know how some words are hard to translate from one language to another?  Mottainai is a Japanese word that someone asked it’s meaning awhile ago after seeing Americans at Christmas just bunch up wrapping paper and throwing it away.  The Japanese ended up having a forum to translate it into English.  What they came up with was “too good to waste”.  I think that speaks volumes about recycling.  I need to learn how to pronounce it.

It looks like Buncher is still getting away with destroying 1/3 of the Terminal Building on Smallman Street.  That is so depressing and wrong.  Their latest PR to justify this disgusting destruction of our heritage is they are planning on building 750 new housing units back there.  This road they insist on building will connect 17th Street and by proxy Liberty and Penn to their new housing and retail units that they will sell for a profit.  I still adamantly feel they should develop 15th Street which already exists, just before the Terminal Building next to Lydia’s.  They were before the Planning Commission the other day and were tooting their own horn about what wonderful developers they are and what an asset they are to the city.  This road that requires the destruction of 1/3 of the Terminal Building will stop before the jogging/bike trail along the river.  Oh My, what civic minded developers.  They are not going to allow users of this new road to run over joggers while traveling down a road that has to stop anyway because there’s a river.  Oh yea, these civic minded developers are going to build a 1,000 car parking garage under the Vet’s Bridge.  What else can they put there, another Hyatt, oops :).

There’s a once in our life time celestial event occurring next Tuesday.  It’s called the Transit of Venus and Venus will totally eclipse the sun around five pm our time.  Now this is series stuff, don’t go looking at it with your naked eyes.  This event occurs twice over eight years every 100 years, so see it Tuesday or you loose (unless you plan on living to be 100+) :).  The Carnegie Science Center is hosting public viewing in the fifth floor observatory, the Buhl Planetarium.  They will have telescopes with solar filters for safe viewing (I assume you will need to buy their regular admission).  (I’m not including a link to the Science Center out of protest.  If they are going to have a calendar of events, lets keep it up to date.  There’s really no info on their web site about this event that I could find).  The Observatory at Riverview Park will not be hosting any kind of an event because of their location with the park’s trees will block the view.

Beautiful day today and will be tomorrow, enjoy,




Amnesty International was founded in 1961, Joseph Guillotin’s birth anniversary (1738- the proponent of the “less painful form of death sentence”),  William Pitt’s birth anniversary (1759), the Sierra Club was founded (1892), Slugs Return to Capistrano (seriously), Jim Thorpe’s birth anniversary (1888) and it’s Barry Commoner’s birth day, he turns 95 tomorrow.

There’s a Mercer County church softball league and they are banning a Mormon church group because they don’t view them as Christians.  Are we never going to learn as a country?  #1, it’s a church league, are we going to go back to the middle ages and have a crusade against Utah next?  #2, it’s sports, competition, intramural, team building, etc.  It is not dogma being taught.  I don’t particularly like the Mormons coming to my door any more than I like the Jehovah Witnesses.  But I prefer both of them to some stupid telemarketer.  At least they believe in something.

While I’m ranting a bit, let me continue my rant on celebrities now.  I don’t like Ted Nuggent’s political stance, nor his activism.  But I respect him as a human and the right to believe in what he believes in and to support those beliefs.  What I have zero tolerance are celebrities like Charlie Sheen who really should just grow up.  He’s not 21 anymore.  And someone I have even less respect for is Alec Baldwin.  He gives a flight attendant a really hard time because passengers are required to shut off electronic equipment during landing and take off.  I don’t know if he’s missed this announcement for the past forty years, or maybe it’s because he’s a celebrity he doesn’t have to abide by this.  What I do find REALLY offensive is he was was running for the mayor of New York at the time.

Oxford Development owns the building on Smithfield Street between Fifth and Forbes across from the old Kaufmann’s.  Built in 1917 as the Frank and Seder department store, it is a 200,000 square foot building. Oxford is considering either renovating the space to bring it up to class A space or possibly tearing it down and building a 33 story new tower.  They are currently seeking commitments from potential tenants before proceeding with either plan.  I vote for the renovation option.  # 1 it’s a pretty cool looking building right now and there’s enough areas with buildings in worse condition that may benefit by tearing down a bunch of nondescript buildings for a big one.  # 2, Oxford says they would need public subsidies to build the 33 story tower, if the market won’t bear constructing 772,000 square foot building, it shouldn’t be built.

Frank Vittor emigrated to America from Italy in 1906 and to Pittsburgh in 1917.  He became an internationally know sculptor and designed a cast they used to make bronze water fountains around the city.  There were around 30 and their the ones with the upside down dolphin on two sides.  There are still five around that function: two in Schenley Park, one each in East Park, Mellon Park (not to be confused with Mellow Square) and Highland Park.  Mr. Vittor did the bronze sculptor of Hons Wagner that sits outside PNC  Park.  The Laurel Foundation donated $50,000 to the city to recreate the molds.  The plan is to create at least two fountains with this money.  They are adapting the design to make them wheel chair accessible.  Not time line on when they expect to have the first two completed.

A rabid bat entered a home in Richland while the residents were sleeping.  Luckily the residents woke up and found the bat and had the sense to trap it between the upper and lower sashes.  That’s how they found out the bat was rabid.  The residents are undergoing rabese shots.  I didn’t realize a bat can bite you while you are asleep and you may not even feel it and they do not necessarily leave bite marks.

Gallery Sim’s latest exhibit is 89, The Neighborhoods of Pittsburgh and it runs through June 10.  Located at 1735 E Carson Street, it’s hours are Noon to 4 pm Thursdays through Sundays.  There are thirty Pittsburgh artists that are highlighting the various neighborhoods with paintings, photography and other mediums.  Besides reflecting the diversity of our city neighborhoods, it also is reflecting the diversity of the artists.  More info at Sim’s web site or by calling 412.586.4531.

The Pittsburgh Bonsai Society will be having their annual spring show June 2 and 3 at the Phipps Garden Center in Shadeyside.  Hours are from 10 am until 5 pm (4 on Sunday).  There will be featured bonsai creations on display as well as vendor selling supplies and giving advice.  There will be an 11 am class both days on bonsai techniques starting at 11 am  for a minimum fee.  More info at their web site.

Well, I’m going to bed.  Had my second wedding, four more to go.  :)  Big Burritto was the caterer and they did a fantastic job, both in food and service.  Tomorrow’s Memorial Day, please take a minute at some point to ponder the young men and women who has sacrificed everything so we can enjoy this less than perfect country that we all should love.


Tomorrow it the birth anniversary of publishing and communications tycoon Samuel Newhouse (1895), anniversary of Morse opened his first telegraph line (1844 between Baltimore and Washington DC) The Brooklyn Bridge opened (1883), the Anti-Saloon founded (1893) and it is the start of the 70th Grand Prix de Monaco.

One wedding down, one this weekend and then two in June and two in September.  Done.  :)  I do enjoy seeing people having fun, it’s just that it’s so much work.  But that isn’t why I brought this up.  Since I won’t be having anymore weddings after this year, I don’t need that grassy space in the Courtyard where that little brick patio is.

So what I’m thinking I may do next year is to rip the grass out and create more gardens.  Specifically as much native plants as I like and working the space into a rain garden.  Maybe plant a tree over by the Mansion/Beach so by the time it’s mature, it will probably be about time for the big locus to come out (I imagine I will be long gone one way or another by then).  :)  I think I would like to bring in a bunch of topsoil to build rolling hills with large rocks spread around.  I could have a lot of fun tucking things away in there for people to find.  Not a scavenger hunt, but architecturals and other objects of interest.

Speaking of gardens, here’s a pic of the Veranda gardens as they look today:

Everything’s growing in nicely.  Do you notice the new trellis?  I had been planning on getting rid of that white lattice one that was here when I bought the place.  It was literally falling apart. I was out a Lowe’s a few months ago and thought I’d look around.  It was sitting in the garden center in a cubical with a price of $56, but the $56 didn’t say what was $56.  And there was no price on the box.  It was early spring and I thought maybe it was last year’s model and they may have wanted to get rid of it.  I took it and a few other items to check-out and it scanned in at $174.  I said “Oh no, there’s no price on the box and it was in a section that said the price was $56.  The manager was called and we walked back to see where I got it.  She acknowledged that’s what the price looks like and she would sell it to me for that price.  I said no, that was OK.  I’ve made mistakes myself and appreciate someone understanding that something’s a mistake.  I was back in the same Lowe’s a few weeks later and the same trellis was in the same section for $56.  I called this to the attention of the garden manager and he was very polite and thanked me.  I was in a few weeks later and bought it for $56.  :)  If they can’t clean up their act after it being pointed out to them twice, shame on them.

And here’s a picture coming in to the Courtyard from the parking lot without the handicapped ramp:

That makes the entry into the Courtyard from the parking lot so much more open.

Speaking about the ramp, the plan was/is to move it to the back of the parking lot.  It will attach to the Ballroom door in the parking lot and drop down to the door that used to go to the office and now goes to Bromeliad.  It only stands twelve inches tall and is all the way in the back of the parking lot, mainly behind my truck.  But part of it is visible from the street so I had to go through the historic review process.  I really don’t care a lot, it’s just that I missed the deadline for the April meeting by one day.  So I had to wait until the May meeting.  And now I’m busy as all get out (sold out last night-a Tuesday Primus concert at AE Stage) and have battled getting back Downtown to pull the permit.  Of course, when I did finally make it down there, I didn’t have a site plan (I should have known better) and had to come home, get one and then squeeze another trip down to the city.  So all’s Kosher at this point, just waiting on Rick DiBucci to come and pour it.

Dave (I don’t remember his last name) was in charge of Light of Life, when I moved here.  Real nice guy, played the game with the local Nazi’s when they remodeled their offices to keep everything smooth between the non profit and the neighborhood association.  Non profits are like businesses to the neighborhood association.  They would rather we were all elsewhere.  Light of Life fills a big need in the community with homeless, abused women and other’s in need stabilizing these individuals and teaching them life and work skills.  Light of Life blatantly lied to the neighborhood association last fall.  (Can you believe I’m actually siding with the Nazi’s?)  Light of Life has services spread all over the city and for efficiency, they are looking to combining everything into one campus.  One of the sites they are considering is the old Columbus school across from the park along the ridge CCAC sits on.  When asked what the status was for their plans, Light of Life claimed it was all up in the air, when actually they had put a formal bid in for the Columbus school.  Pretty shabby.  OK, if you’re not sitting down, please do so.  I don’t want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt.  I must say, I am in agreement with the neighborhood association’s stand against the Columbus school campus.   There’s four agencies over here on the Northside handling the homeless.  I think the services should be more evenly spread throughout the city.

And just to keep my reputation intact, let you know about the poor pound puppies aren’t allowed in my neighborhood.  The people over that the Humane Society got so tired of hearing the neighborhood association whine, they have the unpaid volunteers take these poor animals for their 3o minutes a day outside a cage for a walk through other neighborhoods.

We recycle everything.  Besides the obvious paper, glass & metal any thing I can figure out a new use for, I do.  I collect those styrofoam packing peanuts until I have a full trash bag and drop it off at a Kinko’s or some such.  I take damaged linens down the the Humane Society.  We even process the used bars of soap.  They’re dried on a rack and then kept in a box until it’s full.  Dave at Light of Life was always so excited to get them.  When I took them down today, I got a pretty lukewarm reception “Yes, we’ll take them”.  I’m replacing all the pillows at the Inn and thought Light of Life could use them on their homeless housing on North Avenue.  The receptionist came back from the director of donations and told me they only accept new pillows.  I do understand, bed bugs are becoming a major threat.  And there’s other critters (lice) that could be transported in a pillow.  So I called Bill over at the YMCA on North Avenue that also helps the homeless.  He was elated.

Have a wonderful rest of your week,




Tomorrow is the Preakness Stakes, the anniversary of the Simplon Tunnel (from Switzerland to Italy, started in 1898 and completed in 1906), Malcolm X birth anniversary (1925) and Ho Chi Minh’s birth anniversary (1890), it is the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe serenading JFK’s birthday at Madison Square Garden and it is the anniversary of the near total darkness that fell on New England at midday in 1780, and no explanation has ever been figured out.

To qualify as a “non profit”, hospitals only have to provide 2% of their care as charitable.  The other 98% can be profits.  I guess that’s why AGH’s recently canned Olivia walked with a $7.4M after a two year stint (?) .  He was to turn the hospital around, but from what I’ve heard, he just brought a bunch of his buddies in at high paying jobs while slashing hourly staff.  He even did better than UPMC’s Romoff who hauled in $6M, doubling his income from last year.

Heinz Galleries, at the Carnegie Museums in Oakland, are having an Impressionist theme through August 26.  When Impressionism first appeared in France in the mid to late 1800′s, they were not allowed in official Paris Salon, but were sent to the first Salon des Refuses.  There are three galleries that this exhibit will take you through various aspects of Impressionism.  Beside the works of Manet, Cezanne, Pissarro and Monet, there is also pictures by American Impressionist photographer Alfred Stieglitz.  At the end of the exhibit is the Carnegie’s own copy of Water Lilies (1915-1926).  Hours are 10 1m to 5 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, with late showings on Thursdays until 8 pm.  Sunday hours are from noon until five.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.622.3131.

The 2012 BMW M5 has a 560 horsepower engine with sound dampers.  To please their most demanding drivers might miss the sound of the engine revving, so they installed pre-recorded engine noises that will play in the cabin through the stereo system.  :)

With only 30,000 hotel rooms in Rio de Janeiro and 50,000 expected for UN conference on Sustainable Development, local officials persuaded owners of many “short-time” lodging establishments to change their modeus operandi.  They will be removing some furniture like exotic chairs, I hear the large round beds will stay.  :)

In Kuwait, at the 10th Arab Shooting Championship, Maria Dmitrienko of Kazakhstan sang the “national anthem”, but actually she sang the perody from the movie Borat with lyrics like “greatest country in the world, all other countries are run by little girls” and filtration system a marvel to hehold, it removes 80% of human waste.”  :)

They’re having the 55th Annual Pittsburgh Folk Festival this weekend at the Monroeville Convention Center, at the Mall.  There will be ethnic dances, concerts, food booths, an artisan market, cooking demonstrations and ethnic booths showcases the many different folks that make up Pittsburgh.  Some of the 35 cultures participating this year are Scotland, Ukraine, India, Germany, Bulgaria, Philippines, Greece, Iran, Croatia, Hungary, Hawaii (I thought that was American) :), England, Wales and Brazil.  More info at their web site.  Hours are today 4 – 10 pm, Saturday 11 am – 10 pm and Sunday from 11 am – 6 pm.  Admission is $12 per day, free admittance for military service persons (Nice touch).

This is the end of Venture Outdoors Festival at Point State Park.  This has been happening around Western PA since May 10.  Saturday hours will be from 11 am until 6 pm and info at their web site.  These are the cool people that rent kayaks and bicycles under the 6th Street Bridge, out at North Park and several other locations, I believe.  Info on activities outside the Point can be found at Walls are Bad.

Finally, Gallerie Chiz will be having  an exhibit Human Behavior featuring artists Brian Fencl, Daria Pigg and Valetta through May 26.  This show is a bit off center, Fencl’s oil paintings and drawings explore a breakdown in Western society and culture clashes between the old and new.  In one, he features sort of a brawl between “high” culture and “low” culture taking place in the Carnegie Hall of Architecture.  In another he presents a creature carrying the head of Charlie Sheen (one of the most notable persons of 2011) past the Roman god Bacchus (god of wine, naturally).  Pigg‘s work is based on composition, she writes a story first and then interprets it in her art work, sometime incorporating some of her written words.  Then there’s Valetta, pastel paintings with a figurative bent, “my pieces are all based on a stream of consciousness method.”

Well, I have my first wedding of the season tomorrow.  Five more to go.  :)



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth of Joe Louis (1914) and Mary Wells (My Guy 1943), the anniversary of the Mexican War being declared (1846), Philly Police bombing of the radical MOVE headquarters (1985) and Stevie Wonder’s birthday (1950).

There are rules debt collectors must follow.  The collector must tell you within five days the exact amount you owe, who you owe and how to proceed if you don’t feel you owe.  If you dispute the debt, be sure to send the collection agency a letter within thirty days why you feel you do not owe this amount (request a signature from the postal service showing the letter was received).  Collectors are not allowed to call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.  They also can not contact you at work, if you tell them your boss doesn’t allow personal phone calls.  They can not “harass, oppress, threaten or abuse you”, nor can they publicly publish your name.  They can not lie or claim they are something they are not (ie that they work for the government, etc).  To report problems, go to the state attorney general’s office or contact the FTC.

Pennsylvania has banned payday lenders for the past six years.  That does not keep these predators out of the state, they are very active on-line.  Just ask Pete Alfeche of Havertown.  Going through a rough time with divorce, raising two teenage sons and some health issues, he borrowed $250.  Unfortunately he fell into the trap payday lenders count on and he ended up paying $2,000 over the course of a year when he could finally pay it off.  State Representative Chris Ross, R Chester County has sponsored a bill allowing  payday lenders back in the state.  In his defense, there are some restrictions in his bill about the activities payday lenders can do.  My issues are two, #1 it doesn’t eliminate the on-line payday lenders.  And #2, by nature, they are a predatory business that sucks assets people down on their luck desprately need.  You can contact Rep Ross on his web site.

Canonsburg is getting ready for home town boy Perry Como’s 100th birthday (he passed away in 1971).  The “singing barber” got his break by singing with the Freddie Carlone Band performing in Cleveland.  He was later signed to RCA-Victor Records and had many hits, a TV serial and frequently hosted holiday TV specials.  The local McDonalds in Canonsburg sort of serves as a shrine to him and Bobby Vinton (another son of Canonsburg) with framed photos, records and even busts of the entertainers.  More info at Canonsburg’s web site or by calling 724.745.1515.

Out of the mouth of babes, well somewhat.  Last weekend, there was a Pirates game at the same time as a Marilyn Manson concert and an estimated 40,000 people were on the Northside for the events.  The T service was chronically short, which infuriate our new County Excecutive Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald said this was unacceptable and the Port Authority will fix their operations or he will do the same thing to them as he did to the county board of health (he fired the director about a month ago). Port Authority Jim Richie said “A lot of people think we should have added  service.  But it came down to money.  We tried to throw out as much service as we could , as much as we could afford.” This goes back to what Steve Bland, the director of Port Authority said during construction of the Northshore connector.  When asked if they would beef up service on Steeler home game weekends, he said “No, that would involve overtime”.  He quickly backed off that statement.  But apparently they still have that mind set.  Lesson #1 Mr. Port Authority, as a business owner, I would decrease service when the T’s are empty and increase it when they are full.  Idiots.

I seriously apologize.  I can’t stop here.  Port Authority just lost a lawsuit about running an ad for ex-felons that they could be eligible for voting rights.  They refused to run the ad sponsored by the League of Young Voters in 2006.  Port Authority said the ad was against their one paragraph policy governing ads.  (They have since replaced that with a four page policy after finally reviewing the ad policies of their peers, like SEPTA in Philly).  After six years of legal wrangling, the judge ruled that Port Authority was totally wrong and not only has to run the ads, they also must pay for UCLA’s legal defense.  The cash strapped agency that’s slashing routes and raising fares has to pay the ACLU $476,357.77 (and that doesn’t include Port Authority’s legal bills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Pyrotechnico, like the the better known Zambelli Brothers are from right up in New Castle. They have been around over 125 years and produce 2,500 shows a year.  They are producing PyroFest in Hartwood Acres on Saturday, May 26.  They are having several shows, it starts at 5 with smoke and noise displays.  All toll, there will be six shows, including a military tribute, a national anthem display, a “Renegade” display featuring the Styx song so associated with the Steelers as well as UFO and smoke.  Phantom Fireworks will also have a demo and display of their products.  Performing will be B.E. Taylor and The Gathering Field.  Pyrotechnico hopes to make this an event they can replicate around the country.  Doors open at 3 pm, price is $18, $10 for kids.  (VIP seating is $40).  Don’t forget to bring a chairs or blankets.  More info at their web site, Showclix or the Hartwood Acres site.

Have a great weekend and happy Mother’s Day,



Tomorrow is anniversary of Schuman Plan (the European Union in 1952 which later evolved into the Euro Zone), the British captured the Enigma Machine from a disabled German sub the cracked the German secret codes (1941), FCC’s chairman Newton Minow invited the TV executives to sit down and spend a day watching what they were producing “a vast wasteland” and challenged them to come up with new and creative programing (1961).

I’m torn here.  I like art and creativity as well as function.  When combined, you go to a new level.  The Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery at 5833 Ellsworth Avenue, Shadyside is having their annual tea pot exhibit.  By definition, gallery owner Amy Morgan says “You can’t put tea in any of the teapots in this show.”  The sixty artists that have entered this show have made tea pots are made of glass, metal, ceramic, welded & forged steel, wood and various other fibrous materials such as felt, silk, raffia, even pine needles.  There’s a porcelain shaped like a candy tin with cheese, fruit and a napkin on top, there’s a colorful parrot carved from wood, a flame worked and cast glass pot that resembles a whimsical octopus, little red riding hood sitting on a couch conversing with the wolf that looks like he’s ready to pounce and many other unique pots.  The show runs from 11 am until 5 pm Tuesdays through Fridays and noon until 5 on Saturdays through June 2.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.441.5200.

Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation has started up their free Downtown tours already.  This is a must do for anyone that has time starting at noon every Friday through September.  The tours are about an hour and the guides pass on an incredible amount of information, like the documents forming the now defunct Czechoslovakia were signed across Seventh Street from the Benedum.  Banks at the tour of the 19th century generally had lions guarding their doors.  Pittsburgh was the second riches city in the country in 1907 (the year the city of Pittsburgh illegally annexed the City of Allegheny).  May’s tours are focusing on the Penn/Liberty Cultural District, June’s tours will focus on Market Square, July will tackle Grant Street and Mellon Square (hopefully the renovations will show progress), 4th Avenue and PPC Plaza  will take the spotlight in August and September bridges and river shores will be the center of focus in September.  October will feature tours of some of the key city neighborhoods.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.471.5808.

Conflict Kitchen’s moving from the East End to Downtown this summer.  They haven’t finalized a lease yet, so the exact location hasn’t been released.  They are looking for a space that has some space for some seating (currently it’s a walk up).  Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski started this restaurant (which is internationally known) to educate people about the cultures the U.S. is in conflict with.  The menu rotates between Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  And the staff can initiate conversations about the featured nation’s culture, the don’t take a position “these poor countries need American help” or “America is the super aggressor that needs to leave”.  They focus on cultural distinctions that can aid in our understanding of a different culture.  Cool.

OK you mid lifers, one of the biggest concerns of people my age is retirement.  It’s HUGE.  Do we have enough money to cover expenses?  What will our life style be like?  Can we enjoy our “golden years”?  There’s a web site, analyze now that can give you some guidance.  Something many of us aren’t familiar with is Medicare/Medicaid.  And with all the current political conversations, things aren’t getting clearer.  Some people plan on $5k per year “out of pocket” costs in retirement to find it’s more like $10k per year.  Keep in mind Medicare/Medicaid does not cover eye, dental or hearing treatments.

Jim Scalo or Burns & Scalo Real Estate has started a new venture with Joe Blattner, Class-G.org.  They are organizing green ratings for existing buildings.  I guess it’s OK for large business, but I find their $700 annual fee daunting.

Gary Geyer of Lawrenceville is open Pittsburgh’s first indoor bike park in an 80,000 square foot old warehouse on Hamilton Avenue in Homewood.  Geyer, an avid bicyclist, got interested in the idea after visiting Cleveland’s Ray’s MTB Indoor Park.  This 120,000 square foot indoor bike park was the first of it’s kind in the US.  It opened in 2004 and had 20,000 visitors in 2010.  Geyer, a local contractor, is planning mountain biking trails, a BMX trick park, an area for beginners, a spin class area and possibly a lounge.  He’s planning on opening in stages and hopes to have the first section of Wheel Mill open by the end of the year.

There are four reliefs carved into two foot square pieces of stone tucked away in an alleyway.  One is obviously Prez Lincoln (and he’s the only one facing left), an Indian with a headdress, a man that could  be Prez Washington and a mystery lady.  Originally they were on the front of a building built during the Civil War at 808 Liberty Avenue that was demolished after the 1936 flood.  The building belonging to the Arbuckles (of coffee fame) constructed a new building on the original foundation and for some reason had the reliefs placed on the back of the building facing the alleyway.  Anyway, it’s a little piece of Pittsburghabia (my word) you can impress your friends when walking around Downtown.

I was scheduled for jury duty a month ago and wrote the wrong date on my calendar.  When I realized this, the date had passed.  I called them and they were very understanding and I was scheduled for today.  I went in this morning (in shorts) and was waiting with the masses when one of the clerks came to me and asked me to follow her with all my stuff.  Again, she was very nice telling me to go home.  I think they’re going to end up sending a sheriff next time to be sure I’m aware of when I’m scheduled and that I am properly attired.  :)

I really am loving these longer days.  I am so much more productive and full of energy.  The white lilacs are opening up and filling the Courtyard with their wonder scent.  Everything’s so green and healthy looking.  Yeah spring!

Have a great day,



Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby (since 1875), the American made up Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo, :) Karl Marx’s birth anniversary (1818), James Beard’s birth anniversary (1903), Tyrone Power’s birth anniversary and Thailand’s Coronation Day marking the day the current king was crowned in 1946.

They officially opened South Side’s river front park this week.  The 3.2 acre park runs from 25th Street down to the Hot Metal Bridge.  This gives river access to the Southside Works retail complex and connects Three Rivers Heritage and the Great Allegheny Passage Trails.  They are not ignoring the history of the land there (formerly the J & L Steel Mill).  Five steel ingots and a large slag ladle crews discovered while constructing the park have been preserved and on display, as is a former gate from J & L’s Morgan Billet Mill donated by Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.  The park is designed to incorporate a marina, possibly as early as next year.

The Butler County Industrial Museum opened recently.  It is at 801 Plumb Street in Darlington and starting June 3, it will be open Saturdays from 10 am until 5 pm and Sundays from 1:30 until 5 until October.  Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.  The museum houses records and collections from A & S Railroad, B & W, Crucible, J & L, Moltrup, United Steel Workers of America, Fry Glass, Cooperative Flint Glass, Mayer China and other Beaver County based businesses.  They don’t seem to have a web site yet, but more info or to arrange a special tour, call 724.312.0831.

Louisville, CO painter Mark Loebach believes that when it comes to our individual identities, each of us builds layers that eventually become a wall that keeps us from understanding ourselves.  Over our life time, this wall gets thicker and thicker.  His latest exhibit Beautiful Beasts is being shown at Boxheart Gallery (4523 Liberty Ave, Bloomfield) is open through May 26.  It is a series of large-scale bodies in motion.  Regular gallery hours are Tuesdays 11 until 6, Wednesdays through Saturdays 10 until 6 and Sundays 1 until 5.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.6878858;.

Meadowcroft, the oldest site known for human habitation is opening for the season down in Avella, Washington County.  Under a 16,000 year old ledge, archaeologists have been unearthing remnants of their civilization for a number of years now.  Visitors can explore the massive Rockshelter and the recreated 19th century Ohio Valley village.  New this year, visitors can walk along a self-guided trail loop through the woods.  It is open Saturdays from noon until 5 and Sundays from 1 until 5.  More info at their web site or by calling 724.587.3412.

Saturday will have the largest full moon in years, the moon will pass in it’s closest orbit to earth in it’s cycle.  Which will make for a pretty dramatic view of the moon, but hinder the viewing of the meteor shower also passing us tomorrow.  The moon peaks out at us around 8:30 and will be it’s fullest around 11:30.

Sculpturer J Seward Johnson makes life sized and realistic looking sculptures.  His business man, sitting on a bench in New York became iconic when first responders saw him bent over his briefcase covered in white dust on 9/11 and went to aid him.  :)  Fifteen of his sculptures will be spread around Downtown, mainly in the Gateway Center area through August 5.  The are “Out of Sight”, “Allow Me”, “No, Mommy, That One”, ” Far Out”, “Monet, Our Visiting Artist”, “Follow The Leader”, “Taxi”, “Sidewalk Jungle”, “Holding Out”, “Contact”, “Weekend Painter”, “Gotcha”, “Nice to See You”, “Waiting to Cross” and “A Little to the Right”.  Take a walk Downtown and see if you can pick them all out. :)

Be sure to go out and cheer on the runners on Sunday,


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